Rare cruise visit for Brac


The arrival of a spectacular four-masted sail boat in Cayman Brac on Friday could herald the start of a new era of cruise tourism for the island. 

Without the amenities or the infrastructure to adequately handle full-size cruise ships, tourism chiefs on the Brac hope to tap into a niche market of smaller touring vessels like the MS Star Flyer. 

The 16-sail ship and its 114 passengers were greeted at Scott’s dock on Friday by an entourage of tourism officials, taxi drivers and tour operators. A small craft market had been assembled on the dock and a sizable crowd of locals gathered to greet the passengers and take photographs of the picturesque ship. 

At Barracuda’s Bar across the road, a sign on the window proclaimed “Welcome, passengers.” 

Deputy Premier Moses Kirkconnell was there to shake hands with the first tourists as they stepped on shore.  

The sense of relief, and of opportunity, for the island was palpable. 

Few present said they could recall the last time a cruise ship of any kind docked on the island and the prospect of a weekly visit would be a welcome boost to the island’s tourist-based economy. 

Friday was the first of five scheduled visits for the island-hopping schooner, which has included both Grand Cayman and the Brac in its itinerary on a trial basis. If successful, the two islands will be part of the ship’s Caribbean region route for next season, meaning weekly calls from September through March. 

Gerald Schoeber, the first officer of the ship, said his first impressions of the Brac were very good. 

He said the company was interested in changing up its route for next season. 

“This is just a trial to find out if it is a good cruise. So far everybody is happy,” Mr. Schoeber said. 

“I am quite confident that Star Clippers will want to keep coming here,” he added. 

Mr. Kirkconnell, who is also a legislator for the Sister Islands, said smaller ships like the Star Flyer and the MV Island Sky, which will dock at the Brac for a one-off stop on March 18, represented a real growth opportunity for the island. 

“When we identified cruise tourism for Cayman Brac, we looked at getting a small upscale cruise vessel that would put the Brac on the itinerary. To see the vessel actually here and anchored, to see the people coming ashore, we are extremely pleased with where we are,” he said. 

New opportunities 

Mr. Kirkconnell said tall ships and smaller cruise operators also offered a different kind of opportunity for Grand Cayman. 

“They (Star Clipper) are investigating and we are working hard to see if they will actually home port in Grand Cayman.  

“That would mean they (tourists) would fly into Grand Cayman, get on board the vessel, the crew would take their stores in Cayman Islands, buy their bunkers in the Cayman Islands, they would take their water in Cayman Islands, so you certainly get added value to the cruise visit,” he said. 

The numbers on board may be small in comparison to the giant cruise ships seen frequently in George Town harbor, but Mr. Kirkconnell believes even a few hundred additional arrivals each week could make a big difference to the Brac. 

“We think the 100-150 passenger range is ideal for the Brac. Certainly, I believe that, based on the cost of this cruise, they have more disposable income and it will spin off into our economy quite well,” he said. 

The early indications appeared to be good. Within minutes of coming ashore, tourists were spending money in the craft market, boarding buses to take pre-arranged tours of island sites, or donning masks and flippers to snorkel from the jetty. 

Chris and Amanda Wright, visiting from Hampshire in the United Kingdom, said the experience was very different from a regular cruise trip. 

“This is a lovely little island, we are quite fortunate being on a small ship that we can come to little islands like this,” said Mr. Wright. “It’s quite different to other cruise ships. There is very little entertainment or that kind of thing, you just sit out for a night under the stars with the sound of the wind in the sails, it’s very romantic. 

“It is good to have the variety of different places, the big towns like Grand Cayman and the small places like this.  

“One of the things we like to see is this little market, it is helping the local community and doing something for them. That’s really good because often the big ships come into big ports and the people don’t really get any benefit from it at all.” 

For Simone Scott, a Brac businesswoman who runs the store NIM Things, specializing in native island-made arts, crafts and jewelry, the feeling was mutual. 

Ms. Scott, who had set up a stand at the market, said the ships’ visits would provide a welcome boost for the Brac.  

“I’m kind of wayward on the cruise ship idea. The small cruise ships I like the idea of those, but the big cruise ships, I don’t think we have the capacity for that kind of stuff. 

“The small ones and the tall ships, I would welcome any time.” 


The MS Star Flyer moors off Cayman Brac Friday. – PHOTO: ED BEATY


Deputy Premier Moses Kirkconnell welcomes cruise tourists to the Brac Friday. – PHOTO: JAMES WHITTAKER


  1. This is great news for our sister island, hopefully once people see the sereneness of the Brac they will want to come back as Stay Over tourists. I do believe that the Brac and Little Cayman will be the future of Eco Tourism for the Cayman Islands They should really focus on that aspect and giving the island highly Tropical feel. For people who want to get away from the crowds and spend some quality time with their loved ones the Brac can be the place to go. Empty beaches and the safety of taking long walks at sunset can be very inviting..

  2. Michael,

    I like idea of Eco Tourism, though my visit to Little Cayman raised some questions which I didn’t like. While I was driving around the Island, I saw the same thing every 50 miters. The same thing was Land for sale from one of our respectable real estate agencies. So the question I’ve got is:

    Was there some conscious decision to keep sister islands from overpopulation and leave lots of area for nature and eco-things?


    Is it so only because not many people (yet) are willing to buy the land?

    It seems that second option is closer to the truth. Then next question is – what is going to happen to Little Cayman if all land is sold and developed?

  3. Yep Stanislav, I completely agree with you, hopefully there will be an effort to preserve the environment on the Sister Islands. This would be a great place for the National Trust to purchase tracts of land that can be protected and converted into Nature preserves while the price is still low. It would be an excellent idea to start a botanical Park there now why they can. I think a focus on the Eco Tourism aspect is what the Sister Islands need in order to make it, they can’t compete with the amenities offered on larger island so they need to pay close attention to the quite serenity they have and ensure it has the best of that world to offer. There are a lot of people who are looking to get away from it all. I do believe the Cayman Islands needs more development in order to be sustainable but we have to be really careful with building up the sister islands because there’s not much to go there for outside of the Peace and Quiet. So they need to have something to offer for people to enjoy and Nature could be their best product.

  4. Stanislav, the deal on LC always used to be that you could own the plot but were not allowed to build on it.

    What I rather suspect may be happening now is that the realtors are trying to put so much of the island into speculative outside ownership that they can force CIG to open the whole place up for development.

    As the saying goes – money talks! I’ve just seen one of my favourite getaways in the Bahamas trashed by this – you can’t afford not to cooperate – mentality and it is a disaster area.

  5. Michael, where I come from they call it speculation. You buy in the hope of making a big profit when the rules change. A lot of people made a killing on this in places like Costa Rica and Honduras.
    If it is a scam, then it goes back over 20 years to my certain knowledge. I saw parcels of land on LC for sale back in 1992.

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